Landmarks Preservation Commission Successfully Updates Rules

By Frank Fortino

As of January 22, 2019, new rules have gone into effect for the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The updated rules, located in Title 63 of the Rules of the City of New York, were unanimously approved on December 11, 2018, after a year-long process that included two public hearings and four months of comment periods.

LPC launched the proposal to update its rules in January 2018 to streamline the approval process and to reflect current commission practices. On March 27, 2018, the first public hearing lasted two hours beyond the allotted time to accommodate all speakers. The volume of testimony prompted LPC to extend the period for written comments by six weeks. The commission revised its proposal, which was presented at a second public hearing on October 16, 2018.

Highlights of New Rules

In several cases, the rules were changed to improve language consistency with other offices and agencies and to make them more user-friendly. More substantive changes include the following:

  • A new section authorizes LPC staff to approve applications for work to repair, restore, and re-create building façades and related exterior elements to maintain, preserve, or recall historic architectural details.
  • In addition, restoration rules codify agency preference for replacement of in-kind materials to match historic materials, although substitute materials may be used in certain instances, depending on the material. For instance, brick and stucco may not be replaced with a substitute. However, fiber-cement board can replace wood siding on the primary façade if building or fire codes prohibit use of wood.
  • LPC staff has new authority to approve certain types of windows and window openings. In addition, except for the top floor, LPC staff can approve window enlargement or combinations, provided the alterations meet specific conditions.
  • A previous change that would expand LPC staff approvals of rooftop additions was removed, although the new rules clarify how to measure the height of a one-story addition (which LPC staff could previously approve).

A Team Effort

These new rules represent a success story for our city’s collaborative rule-making process. The city government and the public have invested a significant amount of time and energy toward streamlining the approval process, without compromising New York’s strong standard of preservation.

If you have questions regarding how the new rules affect your property, contact Metropolis Group at 212.233.6344.